Welcome to our new series on vintage celebrity fashion icons!
Today: Celebrity Fashion Icons of the Sixties
How do you develop a sense of style? Most of us are influenced by pop culture. In the days before the internet, we found our fashion icons from three places: TV shows, the movies, and music stars. Growing up in the sixties, there were several women who were the epitome of cool. I wanted to dress like them, but I was too young (and my mom never would have allowed it). But their look still influences my fashion style.
“One of these days these boots are going to walk right over you”. How badass is that? She may have been the daughter of a lounge singer, but Nancy was the coolest. (OK, Frank was a heartthrob in his early days, but in the 60’s he was an old man to us). Nancy had big frosted hair, wore mod minidresses and go-go boots. She sang a James Bond theme song! She made movies with Elvis! Who was cooler than Nancy?
Nancy Sinatra kept her cool. She posed for Playboy at age 54. She continued to record music. I saw her perform at Little Steven’s Underground Garage Festival in 2004, and she could still rock. So how does that grab you, darlin’?
The first female superhero we saw on TV was Batgirl. Batgirl joined the “Batman” series in its 3rd season in 1967, and the show would never be the same. Batgirl wore a purple and yellow outfit and drove a purple motorcycle with white lace trim. Her alter ego was Barbara Gordon, librarian, showing us that even brainy girls could have a darker side. The New York times praised her for “adding a scrappy girl-power element” to a show that only portrayed women as villians or Aunt Harriet.
Batgirl was played by Yvonne Craig, a former ballet dancer who did her own stunts on the show. Before “Batman” Yvonne appeared as a Orion slave girl who canoodled with Captain Kirk on “Star Trek” and guested on “the Man from UNCLE”. Obviously, this girl already had coolness on her resume.
When I met Yvonne several years ago, she told me that she used her own wardrobe on the “Batman” series. She was a woman with a true sense of style. R.I.P. Yvonne Craig.
Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel was the 4th female partner for John Steed on the TV series “the Avengers”, but she made the biggest impression. I don’t remember anything about the plots of “the Avengers”, but I remember the clothes. For the 1965 season, her costumes were designed by John Bates, including leather jumpsuits, which looked great but were hot, tight and hard to move in.
Diana suggested Alun Hughes, who designed her personal wardrobe, to do Emma Peel’s new “softer” wardrobe. Hughes designed eight jumpsuits in a variety of bright colors using the stretch fabric Crimpline, as well as other mod fashions. Diana left “the Avengers” in 1967 and joined James Bond in film. Diana wouldn’t just be any “Bond girl”; she played Bond’s wife in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.
Diana Rigg is 77 and still acting: you can see her as matriarch Lady Olenna Tyrell on “Game of Thrones”. And she’s still stylish.
The Shangri-las were formed in 1963 in Queens, NY, by two sets of teenaged sisters. But it was Mary Weiss, with her haunting vocals and tough looks, that we remember. She was only 15 when she recorded “Remember Walking in the Sand”. That was soon followed by “Leader of the Pack”, and the Shangri-Las were established as the bad girls of 60’s pop.
Their tough girl persona set them apart from other girl groups, and their outfits matched their songs. Tight pants, high boots, vests with ruffled shirts were their look; not the poufy dresses of the other girls. And Mary, with her long blonde hair, was the star.
The group broke up in 1968, and Mary Weiss disappeared from the spotlight. This only added to her mystique. Mary reappeared in 2007 with a new album, and has since vanished again. But her look and music influenced many women who followed.
Hope you enjoyed this look back–but we’re not finished yet! Visit our Vintage Fashion Blog page for part two of Celebrity Fashion icons of the Sixties, coming next Thursday, starring four more women you need to see.